At the age of 14, Miguel Cabrera was picked by the ‘Tigres de Aragua’, one of the eight teams that compete in the Venezuelan winter league. He made his first hit in December 1999 and played for the team till his retirement from Caribbean baseball in January 2008. During his tenure, Tigres won four titles out of five attempts.
He spent his early years at the Marlins toiling through their farm system. He began as a shortstop in the ‘Gulf Coast League’ (GCL) in 2000. He also played in the ‘New York-Penn League’, ‘Midwest League’, and ‘Florida State League and for clubs ‘Blue Sox’ in Utica, New York, ‘Kane County Cougars’, and ‘Jupiter Hammerheads’.
On his major league debut against the ‘Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ on June 20, 2003, he hit a walk-off home run.
Performing as the Marlin’s cleanup batter, he played a pivotal role in the team’s 4-2 win of the ‘2003 World Series’ against the ‘New York Yankees’.
For the entire 2004 season, Cabrera played in the outfield and racked up 13 outfield assists. The 33 home runs he hit each year in 2004 and 2005 brought him the honour of being the youngest player in MLB history to hit back-to-back 30-homer seasons.
He started the 2006 season as a leader and key run producer. He ended it with .568 slugging percentage and .430 on-base percentage.
In 2007 he became the third youngest player to accumulate 500 RBI as a major leaguer.
After signing the eight year, $152.3 million contract with the ‘Detroit Tigers’ he took the field for his debut outing against the ‘Kansas City Royals’ on March 31, 2008. He was moved to the first base on April 29 for a game against the Yankees.
With his stellar performance at the MLB, Cabrera’s selection to the Venezuelan national team for the ‘2009 World Baseball Classic’ came as no surprise. He had also represented his country before. Venezuela made it to the semi-finals before losing to South Korea.
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While playing against the ‘Oakland Athletes’ on May 10, 2010, he received a high ankle sprain that eventually led him to be ruled out for the rest of the season.
He reached his 1500th career hit against ‘Chicago White Sox’ on July 15, 2011.
In 2012, despite breaking a bone below the right eye in a pre-season game with ‘Philadelphia Phillies’, he was part of the starting line-up on ‘Opening Day’ of the season which was to be the best in his career till date.
Playing at the third base after vacating the first for Prince Fielder, he garnered an impressive record of 44 home runs, 139 RBI, 205 hits, and .330 batting average. He was conferred with the most recent ‘Batting Triple Crown’ in 2012.
He followed that up with an equally superlative 2013 season, in which he won the AL MVP award second year in a row after 2012.
On March 28, 2014, as he returned to the first base, his contract with the Tigers was extended for eight more years on top of the remaining two from the initial writings. The entire deal is worth $292 million.
Due to a Grade 3 left calf strain, Cabrera found himself on the 15-day disabled list on July 4, 2015, for the first time in his 13-year career in the US.
He achieved the distinction of hitting a home run against all the 30 major league teams when he hit one against his former team ‘Miami Marlins’ on June 28, 2016.
He was put on the disabled list the second time in his career on April 22, 2017, after suffering a right groin strain. He made a return on May 2, hitting the ball out of the park for his 450th career home run.
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Awards & Achievements
Miguel Cabrera is a decorated athlete. In a career spanning close to two decades, he has virtually won all the honours and accolades baseball has to offer. He is a four time ‘AL Batting Champion’ (2011-13, 2015), two time ‘League Champion’ (2003, 2012), and one time ‘AL Batting Triple Crown’ winner (2012).
Besides being named AL MVP twice (2012, 2013), he has won the ‘Silver Slugger Award’ seven times (2005, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016), and ‘Tiger of the Year Award’ four times (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013). He has been included 11 different times in the ‘MLB All-Star team’ (2004-07, 2010-16).
Baseball fans and members of the media conferred on him the ‘Hank Aaron Award’ twice (2012, 2013).
In Venezuela, he has received ‘Luis Aparicio Award’ five times (2005, 2011-13, 2015) among other accolades.
Miguel Cabrera married his sweetheart Rosangel on June 17, 2002. They have three children together, two daughters, Rosangel and Isabella, and a son, Christopher. The family resides in Birmingham, Michigan.
Although he identifies as a Catholic, he also practices Santería. He was made a babalawo in 2006.
On the morning of October 3, 2009, Cabrera returned home heavily intoxicated. After an altercation, his wife called the police, who took Cabrera in for further questioning. She suffered an injury on her lower lip, while he had scratch marks on his face. After an investigation, the police concluded that both parties contributed to the domestic assault. Neither of them filed any charges.
He was taken into custody by Florida police on misdemeanor charges for driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting arrest on February 16, 2011.
He set up ‘The Miguel Cabrera Foundation’ in 2012 in order to support various charities for children.